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Notre Dame community mourns death of Brann

Kaitlynn Riely | Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Family, friends, classmates and members of the Notre Dame community gathered at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart Monday evening for a memorial Mass to remember Caitlin Brann, 22, a senior killed in a car accident Nov. 10.

With Brann’s picture displayed beside the altar, senior Adria Helmich shared one of her fondest memories of her friend and fellow Pasquerilla East resident – the day Brann asked her to teach her how to box.

“She put up her fists and started laughing … I couldn’t help but think that this was the same girl who dressed up as ‘Kill Bill’ on Halloween,” Helmich said, calling it a “tremendous privilege, honor and blessing” to have been friends with Caty.

“She was the friend you wanted to have,” Helmich said.

University President Father John Jenkins, who presided over the Mass, said although a few weeks have passed since Brann’s death, her loss remains painful for her family and friends. Her death is especially tragic since she died at such a young age, Jenkins said, when she was full of life and hope and making plans for her future.

In her short life, Brann accomplished much and made many good friends, he said, and “we are grateful for the years that she had.”

Even as the community mourns her loss, they look forward to her eternal life, Jenkins said.

“We remember her today with gratitude for her life and friendship, but we can’t escape the sadness of losing her,” he said.

Brann’s parents, brother and sister were present at the Mass. Jenkins said Brann’s father told him that Caitlin had made plans to go to the Notre Dame-USC game Nov. 25.

“She had a plane ticket, but she didn’t have a ticket to the game,” Jenkins said. “But she was a shrewd businesswomen, and she was confident that she was going to get that ticket.”

Jenkins encouraged the approximately 200 people who attended the Mass to call upon their faith to help them through their loss.

“I think one of the great strengths of the Notre Dame community in times like this is that we do come together to remember, to pray and to commend to God someone we are very close to,” he said.

Jenkins said there are no answers for why Brann’s life was cut short, but suggested that those who knew her use the Eucharistic prayer – the part of the Mass when the priest consecrates the bread and wine and also prays for those who have died – to remember Brann.

This way, every Mass will be a prayer of remembrance for her, Jenkins said.

“Caty is not with us, but we hope she is with God, and with God, she remains with us as well, in a different way,” he said.

Helmich said she believes those who die live on in the memories of the people who knew them.

“I hope we all remember how much laughter and love Caty gave us,” Helmich said.

Brann, a marketing major from Orland Park, Ill., lost control of her 2000 Chevrolet Cavalier convertible at 2:13 a.m. EST Nov. 10 while she was driving west on Interstate 80-90 near LaPorte, Ind. Brann’s rear passenger-side tire blew out, causing her car to roll several times before landing upside down.

LaPorte County Chief Deputy Coronor John Sullivan declared Brann dead at the scene due to “massive head injuries.”